Among several issues discussed at Monday’s Board of Selectmen Meeting was a potential upgrade for the town’s ambulance service from Basic Life Support to Advanced Life Support, as well as the introduction of several new articles, all of which will be voted on at the Special Town Meeting on May 20.
Rochester Fire Chief Scott Weigel and Lieutenant Kevin Richards, who is also the EMS Coordinator with the town, presented their proposal to the public and the Board, hoping to gain approval for the change at Town Meeting, which takes place at Rochester Memorial School at 7pm.
“Right now we’re a Basic Life Support service, meaning our EMTs are only trained to a certain level,” Weigel said. “ALS has twice as much training as they’re at now.”
Weigel said that as of now, Rochester’s total ambulance calls are increasing annually, and that EMS relies on Freetown and Wareham to handle their ALS calls. Calls are determined to be ALS or BLS at the time of the emergency call by Rochester’s dispatchers.
Weigel also said that they have already applied for and been approved for a $100,000 grant from SouthCoast Hospital Group to help fund the switch. The money would go toward two new ambulances and other equipment necessary to accommodate ALS.
“If it passes at Town Meeting, our goal is to get everything up and running by November 1,” Weigel said.
Currently, Rochester is one of only a few municipalities in the state to remain as a BLS provider.
“It’s a fruitful decision to make,” Richards said, also adding that the town loses out on a lot of revenue when it loses its calls to other towns. Not only is it losing money; it puts members of the community at a higher risk, with inadequate service often being provided by the town due to insufficient characteristics of BLS.
Weigel said that they’ve budgeted for approximately $321,000 for fiscal year 2014 for the new system.
“I understand that it’s all about money, by my concern is the safety of the people in this town,” Weigel said.
In other news, the Board shed light on several articles that will be voted on regarding potential changes within the town.
Numerous notable changes to the fiscal status of the town are proposed, including the transfer of $75,000 from the RMS budget into a special education fund for any unexpected costs for FY14.
The town’s operational budget for FY14 was also presented, which is $18,413,066, and another article proposes raises over the normal 2% for the Tree Warden and Highway Supervisor. The Board noted two very large storms from this past year that caused each of them to work countless hours of overtime, which they are not compensated for.
“To only pay the Tree Warden $661 [his current yearly salary] wouldn’t be fair,” said Town Administrator Richard LaCamera.
The Board also discussed the issue of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority’s new commuter rail that is scheduled to run from Middleboro through Rochester and to Hyannis.
Officials said that the train will go through Rochester at about 59 miles per hour but will only go 30 miles per hour through most of the other towns.
LaCamera said that the major concerns that they have is at the crossing on County Road, which is surrounded by two S-curves on each side. Officials are worried that there isn’t sufficient warning about the train tracks for crossing automobiles, and they are looking for some help from the state, which owns the rail.
“There’s a lot of people very upset about it right now,” LaCamera said. “We expressed our concerns to the DOT. There’s no fencing – nothing. Somebody’s going to get hurt. I really think it’s important that we meet with [DOT officials] next week.”
The Board also approved work to the roofs of two town buildings: the Police Station and the Council on Aging. The partial replacement to the roof at the Police Station has been approved for $24,750, and the complete replacement to the roof at the COA has been approved for $29,990.
By Nick Walecka